Harris County Flood Control District plans work on bond projects in 2020 along Cypress-area creeks

After closing out the biggest spending year in its history, the Harris County Flood Control District has no plans of slowing down in 2020 as it continues to execute 237 flood bond projects at once.

With $2.5 billion in local money at its disposal courtesy of a bond referendum approved by voters in August 2018—$291 million of which is allocated for the Cypress Creek watershed—HCFCD Deputy Executive Director Matt Zeve said construction is only beginning to ramp up along Cypress Creek.

The district had 16 active construction sites in the Cy-Fair area as of early January, and there are plans for 20 total bond-funded projects over the next decade.

In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey saturated the Texas Gulf Coast, causing Cypress Creek to pour out of its banks and flood thousands of homes.

“We have a lot of construction that will begin in 2020 in the Cypress Creek watershed,” Zeve said. “We had our biggest spending year in history—approximately $300 million [in 2019]—and we look to do even more in 2020, possibly even doubling that.”


Since Hurricane Harvey, the HCFCD has acquired 80 properties in the Cypress Creek watershed, in addition to three tracts of land for flood plain preservation, 10 tracts of land for stormwater detention basins and 105 empty tracts of land that were platted for houses, Zeve said.

As of mid-December, the district was also in the process of acquiring 60 additional properties and 48 tracts of land in the Cypress Creek watershed. In total, HCFCD had property rights for over 10,278 acres in the Cypress Creek watershed at that time.

“Unfortunately, a lot of the Cypress Creek watershed was developed before we had a firm understanding of where we should and shouldn’t build safely,” he said. “But what’s done is done, so now we’re working to solve some of those problems through buyouts.”

Local projects

One Cy-Fair area project where construction is expected to start in 2020 involves making improvements to a Cypress Creek channel in the Timberlake subdivision. Crews will excavate portions of the creek and add a series of box culverts—structures that allow water to flow though newly excavated areas. The project is expected to be completed by spring 2021 at the cost of $10 million.

In the upstream parts of Cypress Creek in the Katy-Hockley area, the district is looking to start construction on a wetlands mitigation bank in 2020, Zeve said.

“Generally our projects involve impacting wetlands because a lot of our projects involve digging, so we have to mitigate for our impacts,” he said. “This is key to helping all of our projects on the western part of the county.”

Another project the HCFCD will see results from this year is an update to the 2003 Texas Water Development Board study into Cypress Creek tributaries.

According to Zeve, the update will be released around February and will help the district pinpoint areas where staff should be acquiring right of way before they can begin on the next phase of bond projects.

Outside of the bond, the Bayou Land Conservancy—a nonprofit that works to preserve land in the Greater Houston area—approved its 20-year Strategic Conservation Plan in November. Executive Director Jill Boullion said the plan identified 26,500 acres of high-quality land in the Cypress Creek watershed that would be desirable for future flood plain preservation—about 10% of the total acreage in the watershed.

“Our goal is to double our conservation acres,” Boullion said. “So we could go from where we are now, at about 14,000 [acres], up to 20,000-30,000 [acres] in the next 20 years.”
By Shawn Arrajj

Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.
By Hannah Zedaker

Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.


MOST RECENT

Lone Star College System has moved about 97% of its more than 9,000 class sessions online since mid-March as facilities have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pandemic changes move Lone Star College System to enhance online, workforce education long-term

Lone Star College System has moved about 97% of its more than 9,000 class sessions online since mid-March as facilities have closed during the coronavirus pandemic, LSCS Chancellor Stephen Head said. He foresees LSCS continuing to enhance its online options even after stay-at-home orders are lifted.

Houston fiscal year 2020-21 budget workshops run from April 7 through May 20. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Harris County launches Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program, begins process of creating COVID-19 relief fund

In partnership with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, Harris County launched a $10 million Small Business Economic Assistance Loan Program on April 7 to help small businesses on the road to recovery.

Live music acts such as Houston-based band The Tontons have been wiped off venue schedules amid the coronavirus outbreak. Local musicians are now eligible to apply for monetary support from the newly formed Houston Music Foundation. (Courtesy Mark C. Austin)
Newly formed Houston Music Foundation offers relief to out-of-work musicians

The fund hopes to start cutting checks as early as this week.

Sheldon State Park, along with other state parks across Texas, will temporarily close at 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
State parks, historic sites in the Greater Houston area close under Gov. Greg Abbott's order

Gov. Greg Abbott announced via a news release April 7 that state parks and historic sites should be temporarily closed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Cypress Creek High School's class of 2019 celebrates graduating at the Berry Center in May 2019. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Cy-Fair ISD cancels 2020 proms, announces alternate plan for graduation ceremonies

Proms planned for this spring have been canceled, and graduation ceremonies could potentially be postponed.

Abbott's order closes all state parks and historical sites effective 5 p.m. April 7. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Abbott closes state parks, historical sites due to coronavirus concerns

Abbott said the closure is to help prevent large gatherings and strengthen social distancing.

Nancy Garner works on face masks at her sewing machine. (Courtesy Nancy Garner)
See what these North Houston-area businesses are doing to stop the coronavirus

From face masks to hand sanitizer, North Houston residents and companies are getting creative to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

VIDEO: Texas Tribune interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar about the coronavirus's effects on the state economy

At 8 a.m. April 7, The Texas Tribune will host a live interview with Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, conducted by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

The "Stay Home-Work Safe" order in Harris County also prohibits residents from playing on public playgrounds and using public basketball courts. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
REPORT: Stay-at-home order has saved an estimated 4,500 lives in Harris County so far

New data from the Rice University Kinder Instutite of Urban Research suggests social distancing efforts have been effective.

While the facilities of the Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center remain closed, the church is hosting weekly services online. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
April 6: 5 coronavirus stories North Houston readers need to know

See recent stories regarding the coronavirus that have been published recently in North Houston.